Bread Winners Cafe and Bakery
Even if you just order a cup of coffee, you can enjoy the lovely indoor flora and open ceiling at this place. The room is just the right size, with seating for about 25. A table for two in the corner can be quite a romantic affair.

Texas De Brazil
It's a hideously decadent thing, and so delicious you can skip the prolific and endless skewers of red meat plus some paler varieties served here. A sprawling black marble bar in front of this restaurant's Brazilian grills contains some of the freshest, most sumptuous spreads of leafy, seedy, and rooty food in Dallas. Big bowls of fresh salads. Tabbouleh. Hearts of palm. Bright, juicy tomato slices. Supple artichoke hearts stuffed with tuna salad. Asparagus. Mushrooms. Even those vegetables that as children we would scrape from our plates and hide in the potted African violets take on new luster here. Brussels sprouts, for instance. Meat even creeps in. On an island in front of the salad bar is a hunk of prosciutto that sits behind cutting boards blanketed with thin slices of the stuff, along with a little salami. It's not entirely healthy, but at least the cholesterol won't leak from your tear ducts as it does after filling up on the glistening meat impaled on those skewers.

Are you looking for a briny sweetness from your mussels, as our food critic always does? Or is that a sweet brininess? Your sacred seafood quest has ended. Daddy Jack's in Deep Ellum serves these mollusks up right. Besides being tender and, yes, chewy, each little fella is coated in a tangy garlic-tomato sauce. When this appetizer is placed on a generous slice of sourdough bread, you can make a meal of it, unless you are forced to share with others, which makes eating alone an attractive alternative.

Abacus
If chef Kent Rathbun's brilliantly orchestrated Abacus is anything, it's fancy. Its rich elaborateness is accomplished in thoroughly fresh ways, both on the plate and in the dining room. The food is complex with lots of influences meticulously merged in a loud, well-creased ascot sort of way. The dcor is...well, it's a futuristic rendering of poshness. The interior is filled with dramatic angles, jarring plunges, and hard surfaces softened by sloping ceiling soffits and rounded points. It's rich with deep, bright reds and dark wood and lighting that add delicate sparkle. If the Starship Enterprise were retrofitted in red velvet and paneling, Bones wore a corset, and Kirk was called madame instead of captain, the bridge would look like Abacus. Warp speed.

The pasta is firm and tender. The sauce is tangy and rich. The meatball, shaped like a downed sparrow, is bulging with flavor. When you eat it your face gets messy, as messy as it does when you spill too much Chianti down your throat.

JD's Chippery
Alex Scott
JD's cookies are big, crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside, and warm from the oven. One of these suckers can keep you going on a sugar rush for an impressive stretch. Then, in the throes of a nasty jones, you'll come back and buy another one. The snickerdoodles aren't bad, either.

The Great Harvest Bread Co. gets our nod for "best" because of their huge cookie size that's bursting with chocolate. It makes other cookies paltry by comparison. This is a chocolate chip cookie specially designed for chocolate lovers.

This ivy-covered frame cottage with mustard-colored walls, handsome wall sconces, and hardwood floors has the feel of an aging domicile embracing all of its coziness and lyric sparkle. Not only does Lola dish out inspired New American cuisine and well-priced wines, it does it in a collection of snug, intimate dining areas woven throughout. If this isn't the perfect place to seduce or propose, it's at least the perfect place to hammer out a prenup.

Finely fluted layers of delicate pastry encase a juicy apple stuffing far removed from the leaden, tough-skinned clumps on most bakery shelves. Do not attempt to eat while driving, or you will emerge a pastry-flecked frump. Better to have a seat in the small caf and check out the collection of vintage baking tins and eggbeaters while indulging.

Though it's written in French, the list at Jeroboam is one of the most intelligently organized and readable we've seen. The first eight pages serve as a table of contents, with wines categorized under regional headings along with bottle and by-the-glass prices. There is also a bin number that cross-references to pages in the list with regional descriptions, tasting notes, and wine specifications. Fifty-six pages of maps showing districts and villages help describe the wines' origins. The prices aren't bad either.

We're constantly amazed to discover how many of our so-called friends have yet to eat at this charming restaurant, located next to Texadelphia. It really is one of the best restaurants in town, and one of the most cozy; it's one of those converted old homes that's lost nothing in the translation. And the food is exceptional: We're always torn between the buttermilk-fried chicken and the macaroni and cheese, the latter of which is served in the skillet in which it's baked. The former is soft and tender, the latter is smooth and creamy, and combined, they made us wish Mom had learned how to do more than turn ground round into a ball of "meat loaf" when were kids--how much we missed out on. The sugar snap peas made for an exceptional side dish, the mashed potatoes are a dollop of southern-fried heaven, and we'll even take a side of wilted greens when the mood hits us. And there's always dessert: The crème brûle is the best in town. Try it. It's all the proof you'll need.

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